After another tragic shooting in America we are left with nine innocent lives taken and another extremist to examine in our court of law. 21 year-old Dylann Roof will most likely plead insanity and hope to escape the death penalty. From the evidence that has been released, we know that Roof harbored hatred for blacks and identified with white supremacist culture. This was a hate crime and is being identified as an act of terrorism.
What is Terrorism?
According to the FBI, terrorism must follow three characteristics. In the case of the South Carolina church shooting, domestic terrorism must: 1) involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law; 2) appear intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping; and 3) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.
Since Roof claimed to have said he was in the church "to shoot black people", his actions seem to be ideologically driven, which would make his actions an act of terrorism. Roof was an extremist who believed that blacks were ruining America, and he felt like murdering several blacks in a church was a way to prove his point and even start a race war. This was extremism, fanaticism and terrorism.
The Double Standard
The media has been quick to jump to the conclusion that this was an act of terrorism, and they are correct in doing so. This was a lone wolf, but even so, it was an act of terrorism that should be called as such. Roof was a white supremacist who did a terrible thing. His actions, beliefs and ideology are disgusting and have no place in American society. Unfortunately, we live in world of ideological, religious and political zealots. However, the media has a double standard when it comes to defining these types of crimes as terrorism. Because this was a white supremacist who committed violent acts against blacks, the media is quick to call this an act of terrorism. However, in other cases they avoid the notion of terrorism altogether.
For example, lets look at the case of Alton Nolen, also known as Jah'Keem Yisrael. Nolen was a Muslim who "didn't like white people". He posted anti-American screeds to his Facebook page, published photos of Osama bin Laden and militant fighters as well as warnings to people who did not adhere to Muslim beliefs. He even shared photos of gruesome beheadings. Nolen is now in prison after beheading an ex-coworker last year. His actions were motivated by both religious and ideological belief systems. However, the media still avoids calling this an act of terrorism, much less Islamic terrorism. Authorities as well as the Obama Administration defined this tragedy as "workplace violence" even though it is obvious that it was an act of terrorism by definition.
President Obama is also guilty of this double standard when it comes to Benghazi. After the attacks on Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012, four Americans lay dead including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. Obama called the incident an "act of terror" immediately following the incident, but it took him months to call it "an act of terrorism". He still refuses to call it Islamic terrorism, even though that is exactly what it was.
The media continue to pick and choose how they report on stories based off of what their own agenda entails. There is a double standard that takes place on these stories depending on who the perpetrator is and who the victims are. We need to call all violent acts that are political, religious or ideological in nature acts of terrorism, and defining those acts as white supremacism, Islamic extremism or other specific definitions is the only way for us to effectively identify the enemy.